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Dendrobates auratus:
  • Difficulty: Novice
  • Location & History: "Humid lowlands from southern Nicaragua to the Golfo de Urabá in Colombia on the Caribbean and on the Pacific versant from southwestern Costa Rica through Panama to the lower Atrato River drainage of western Colombia, 0-800 m elevation; introduced in Oahu, Hawaii, USA." Described Girard, 1855 (1).
  • Descriptions & Behavior:
    This species is one of the largest PDF species, and similar to the related D. tinctorius, shows a wide range of morphs across its range, particularly in Panama (similar to D. pumilio which share most of their range). This frog shows a general color pattern of green, blue, to brown on a background of black, dark brown, light brown ("bronze") to almost white in some individuals. Similar color combinations and patterns can be found in more than one population, and some populations/morphs can show a range in color, even within the same clutch.

    Size and boldness vary as much with populations as the color patterns do, though generally the green forms (strongly aposematic and very noticable on their typical substrate of leaf litter in the wild) are bolder than the drabbier brown forms (which are less aposematic and tend to blend with leaf litter more) although the species as a whole can be more skittish than D. tinctorius.
    Note: These morphs represent unique subpopulations in the wild that share general physical characterisitics, and for that reason different morphs should not be mixed.

    'Nicaragua Green & Black' - A rather uncommon to rare morph in the hobby, from only a few bloodlines originating back in a late 90s shipment in which few were bred. Moderate size and classic green and black patterning.

    'Costa Rica Green & Black' - Another moderate to large sized classic green and black form that has been in the hobby for a long time, so actual locality information for all animals with this lable is unknown, and it is possible that some of these animals may be from nearby countries and/or multiple populations (2). True known 'CR G&B' are becoming very uncommon (3). The true "classic" Green & Black auratus in the hobby.

    'Hawaiian' - A transplanted form of D. auratus from Panama (most likely "Taboga Island or possibly Taboguilla Island in Panama in the 1930’s" (2)) this form has undergone enough change to be a valid seperate morph. This population is smaller than the before mentioned G&Bs, tends towards much more metallic greenish-yellow (per. comm. w/ Ben_C said reproducing adults in the wild tended towards animals with more golden coloration than green) and the background color can be dark brown to black. Patterning is also highly variable, ranging from traditional blotchy G&B patterning to highly reticulated forms, and animals inbetween. Personality wise they also tend to be more skittish than before mentioned G&B morphs. 'Reticulated' auratus are actually a variant withing the 'Hawaiian' form, and are not a true morph. You can read more about them here (2).

    'Campana/Kahlua & Creme' [old line] - A morph that has been in the hobby a long time, and has had a couple of names. A smaller to moderate sized auratus, these animals range in coloration from dark brown on bronze to white backgrounds, to animals with green/blue markings on a bronze background. Froglets tend to look muddy brown, with their background bronze lightening with age to show impressive contrast as adults, and the morph has a highly reticulated pattern that makes for a very impressive frog. 'Camo Kahlua & Creme' is a bloodline of this morph, founded in the hobby by Robb Melancon, which shows green to blue markings on a dark brown to bronze background, more information can be read about them here.

    'Blue & Black' - Also known just as 'Blue' or 'Royal Blue'. A moderately sized form from Panama, another long time frog in the hobby. These animals have a bright blue body color on a black background, and show little variation in color and pattern. A shy morph that tends to be bolder with higher humidity.

    'Highland Bronze' - Evidently from the east Atlantic Coast of Panama from higher elevations, this morph was imported from Europe (where it known as 'Panamaspecial'). A turquoise and bronze morph, these animals can range from turquoise to blue animals with bronze to very pale bronze/silver backgrounds (4). This morph evidently may need slightly cooler temperatures due to the higher elevations in which it is found in the wild, and is still rare in the hobby.

    Panama Farm Raised Auratus: I (kerokero) need to point out a couple things about the morphs that follow... these animals have flooded the market since the begining of their importation just after the new millenium, and have caused a lot of confusion, namely due to the lack of morph and locality information. The following is a list of "cateogories" that the imports generally fall into, for lack of ability to seperate them into definate morphs. I refer to these with the begining acronym "PFR" to refer to their origins, and they should be kept seperate from similar looking morphs already present in the hobby before importation.

    PFR Green - AKA Panama G&Black, Taboga?. These animals are true greens, no hint of blue in them, and while they have similar patterns as the Nic and CR forms, they tend to show less green coloration, on a background that is usually more of a dark brown to milk chocolate rather than true black (which is why I refrain from calling them G&Bl).

    PFR Green & Bronze - Similar name to above, but a very different frog. One of the largest and boldest morphs, with typical auratus markings very heavy on the green, leaving some animals with only a few spots of bronze. The bronze can vary from dark bronze to almost white, and while the frogs morph looking like typical G&B, the black fades as they age. These animals breed true green, and shouldn't produce and bluish animals, or be bred with blueish animals, as they are grouped into a different category below.

    'Turquoise' - AKA blue/green, teal. These animals range from pure green to a bright blue (tho rarely as deep a blue as the 'Blue' form) on a background of black to bronze, and the blue coloration can vary in intensity in individual animals over time. These frogs morph out with black backgrounds, which may stay black or lighten to a pale bronze as they age. Patterns range from mostly turquoise with little bronze, to mostly bronze animals with almost reticulated patterns. These animals can produced the whole range of colors (green, turquoise, blue, black, bronze, patterning) in a clutch, tho some lines tend to produce certain characteristics more than others - such as the Super Blue line which produces blue animals with more bronze with more regularity than other lines. Blue and Bronze are a similar case, being very blue animals from this morph, and do not breed this coloration true, showing the typical 'Turquoise' range of clutch color and pattern, tho they likely have a higher chance of producing more blue animals. Microspot are animals of this morph with very little bronze, resulting in animals with bronze "spots", pattern opposite of the 'Acon Hill' animals... it does not breed true.

    'PFR Campana' - Similar to the before mentioned Campana morph, but it is unknown on if they came from the same population and therefore should probibly not be interbred.

    'PFR Acon Hill/6 spot/Small spot/Panama Canal' - Primarily black to dark brown/bronze animals with very reduced green markings (looks like a reduced pattern Taboga). The green may be reduced to only a few green spots, to short bars of green. Like other dark morphs, this morph can be skittish and is not as bold as the morphs showing more green coloration, but are not shy (bolder the 'Blue' and 'Campana' morphs). These animals morph with similar patterns to other green auratus, but the green breaks up as it matures. PFR Black may be a population or variation within this group.
  • General Care:
    70-80º F Daytime, with drops as low as 65º F at night. Set up is similar to that of D. tinctorius.

    Kept in tanks these frogs, especially the green forms, will often not seem very "colorful" due to being kept on green moss "lawns" in a terrrarium. To truely enjoy the aposematic coloration of these frogs the keeper should try using leaf litter - a frog that blended in on a moss lawn will suddenly be the most eye catching thing in the tank, just as eye catching as they are to come across in the wild.
  • Breeding & tadpole Care:
    coco hut or other covered area (bower), petri dish or other smooth surface

    Courtship behavior is similar to that of D. tinctorius. Their call is a soft buzz and may or may not be heard outside the tank.

    Breed best in pairs, but breeding does occur in groups. Egg eating may be a problem in breeding group with multiple females (female heavy groups especially) and/or groups not housed in large enough tanks. Courtship, egg care, and tadpole care are typical of the D. tinctorius species group. Tadpoles should not be fed exclusively algae based diets (not more than 50% of the diet). Metamorphs and froglets under 3 months, like D. tincs, are sensitive and should not be highly stressed but are not difficult, and should be raised individually or in groups of 5 or more. They will accept melano FFs out of the water, and springtails are not neccessary.
  • Links to related information:
    Auratus Morph Guide Dendrobates auratus Morphs Frog of the Month - 'Costa Rica', 'Campana', 'Hawaiian', 'Reticulated'
  • Pictures:
    Blue and Black:

    Camo Kahlua:


(1) The American Museam of Natural History Amphibian Species Database v4.0 Online
(2) Frog of the Month Archives
(3) Dendrobates auratus Morphs
(4) Herpetologic

Corey Wickliffe (kerokero)

If you would like to see any updates or modifications to this care sheet please let myself or a moderator know.

Last Updated: 6/23/2007

16 Posts
Good info. How many auratus "per gallon" would you recommend? I have 4 very tame and active adults in an Exoterra Medium Tall Terrarium. They don't fight, sleep together, all have good size and eat well, but I feel its a huge tank for only 4... Whats the general recommendation? (I have three tadpoles I collected from my yard's bromeliads, don't know If Ill keep these).
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